MY SABBATICAL: THE POEM

I woke at 6: 15 am,
thought of dedicated teachers
cultivating young minds in the
chill dark of winter mornings,
fell back to sleep,
and slept soundly.

Switched from the
Socialist International
to Weight Watchers International
and lost a few pounds.

Revised sourcebook for Afro-American Museum,
conducted microfilm research for state photo
exhibit on the  Bread and Roses Strike
of 1912, and grew a little older helping
compile timelime on 60's
for "Eyes on The Prize".

Tripped over the homeless
in the stacks of the Boston Public Library,
who didn't seem to care that I was trying to find
out whether Frederick Douglass actually did
speak at the African Meeting House
(as is presently claimed), and then tripped
over a fraudulent footnote. Amazing.

Met not once but
three times with Financial
Planner figuring how to multiply
meager assets in time for braces,
Brown, and ultimate burials.
Heard cold marble bank lobby words like
"annuities", "cash management" and, mystified,
tried to sing along.

Broke my rib in pothole
bike accident, latest victim
of Mass. budget infrastructure
crisis. Why me?

Tutored student in urban literacy program,
as he battled 12 hour-a-day job as
cook, low pay, diabetes, and
sadistic, tricky GED practice exams. So when
would you╩use "will" versus "shall"?

Read new book on Lincoln
and changed my view for
the third time--a great man, greater
than myth for sure. At least until
incontestable truth of next book.

Discovered vast new powers hidden
in my Mac, but sometimes had
no idea what to write.

Wrote a few good poems about my mother,
and few bad ones as well, thought of her often, as I
packed up the archive of her life, and sent
it off. Read her poems,
all of them, sliding down Amtrak rails
to New York, and was stunned by
their greatness.

Published her haiku's, as per
request of will, gathered together
her tributes, and pondered the
mysteries of life, without generating
a single new insight except that such
pondering often interferes with
actual living itself.

Helped to save a theatre,
old, shabby movie palace,
space for common experience of
drama, laughter, and tears,
and enjoyed this minuscule victory of
the Reagan years. Oh wonderful momentary
derailing of Progress!

Spoke to my father 7 1/2 hours
continuous about sacred family history, while
video camera recorded this winding
river of stories carrying us from
Odessa to Bronx, and over rapids
of sweatshops, strikes, Depression and War.

Cleaned and painted Jewish school basement,
first time since c. 1936, and worked
on its curriculum, attempting to
help Nintendo youth locate meaning
of Jewish identity in late 20th Century.

Became Class Dad of 3rd grade class
in Pierce School, and studied TV professional
wrestling moves with Ethan and Jamie,
particularly "Scorpion Death Lock".
Watch it!

Worked with Children's Museum on
immigration project, comparing
contemporary epic of Soviet Jews
to that of my grandparents, and found it
totally different and completely
the same.

Took on task of straightening out
long-sealed household closets, vast
archaeological digs through mounds
of closet rubble, dreamed of finding my
own Machu Pichu on Brook St.

Prepared to return to school,
and wondered whether
something else replaces
the energy left in youth, hoping
something does, called...?

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Schechter,
February, 1990



All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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